PLANS to replace a Darlington college campus with about 130 homes could be given the go-ahead next week.

The college of technology's application for outline planning permission to develop its Cleveland Avenue site for housing will be considered by the borough council planning committee on Wednesday.

Officers are recommending approval of the application, provided a number of conditions are imposed on developers.

They include a minimum housing density of 30 homes per hectare - the site measures 4.35 hectares in total - with open space of one hectare to be retained.

They also recommend a legal agreement requiring the developer to pay for the maintenance and provision of play facilities at nearby Green Park and Stanhope Park and for improvements to two bus stops in Abbey Road, including raised kerbs and shelters.

The news came as the town's Liberal Democrats stepped up their campaign to block the college's proposal to sell off the site and relocate to a new campus on the edge of town.

Protestors with placards proclaiming "Stop the move" gathered outside the college this week to collect student signatures for a petition against the plans.

Campaigner Nigel Boddy said they had collected more than 500 signatures in just three days.

He added that Lib Dem surveys carried out in the College and Pierremont wards had revealed 54pc of people were opposed to the move. Other surveys were planned for the Bank Top, Eastbourne and Lingfield wards next week.

Mr Boddy said: "Their own report shows that they are moving away from their student base. They are doing the one thing that in business you don't do, which is move away from your core business.

"I would suggest that it would be more likely that students would stay on at Carmel or go to the Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College.

"It could be the end of the college. They really are playing with fire."

College principal Sarah Farley said she believed the protest was merely an election campaign issue.

She said: "They seem to be saying that the move will make the premises less accessible to the students because we are taking it out of the town centre. But, in fact, it will be the complete reverse because it will improve public access. At the moment, the college is not on a bus route and the new campus will be."

She claimed the majority of people in the town were in favour of the move away from Cleveland Avenue.

"I have met local residents and held a series of public meetings and generally there is a lot of support for relocating the college," she said:

She added that the other two main party leaders in the town, Conservative Coun Tony Richmond, whose ward includes the college, and Coun John Williams, the Labour leader of the council, both backed the proposed move.

The preferred site for the new £27m campus is land presently occupied by engineering firm Torringtons in Yarm Road. The college has submitted an application to the council for outline planning permission to relocate to the site, but both parties confirmed this week that no deal had yet been agreed for the sale of the land and negotiations were continuing